CIRILLO, Dominick V. (1930- ): Named boss of
Genovese family in 1997
Called "Quiet Dom," he spent four decades main-
taining a low profile in the mob. But by late 1997
Dominick V. Cirillo was recognized by federal inves-
tigators as the head of the Genovese family, the num-
ber one combination — and the wealthiest — in the
It was clear that Quiet Dom represented a new
breed of non-flamboyant mob bosses. Cirillo refused to
operate as an attention getter eschewing the dapper
don quality of a John Gotti, the ostentatious living of a
Paul Castellano, or even the bathrobe strolling, "men-
tal case" act of his predecessor as boss, Chin Gigante.
Cirillo lived in an attached house in the Bronx and
drove himself around town in inexpensive cars,
insisting that he was surviving on little more than
$500 a month in Social Security. In an impromptu
interview outside the Cirillo home, his son com-
plained the house needed many repairs.
"We don't have money to fix a drain pipe or the
roof, and the washing machine in the basement
leaks," the son said. "If he had money and was such
a big shot, would we be living like this?"
Evidence gathered through informer information
and eavesdropping told a very different story, and
even more revealing was the way other mafiosi
deferred to him in his presence.
By the time Gigante was convicted of murder, con-
spiracy and racketeering charges, Cirillo was the last
surviving member of Chin's inner circle, and he was
the obvious candidate for successor. No one else
knew as much about the family's far-reaching activi-
ties. But it was said that Cirillo took the job of boss
with considerable reluctance.
"As boss," said Frederick T. Martens, a Mafia
expert who tracked Quiet Dom for 30 years, "he
automatically gets more money and a piece of every-
body's action in the family, but today there is one
major disadvantage. You may be at the pinnacle of
power, but the top echelons of law enforcement gear
up and turn their sights on you."
Could Quiet Dom's style make him less vulnera-
ble than other bosses? It might and certainly the
Genovese mob needed a strong leader. The mob's
activities in garbage removal, the Fulton Fish Mar-
ket, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and
even the Feast of San Gennaro had been crimped by
law enforcement authorities. Cirillo would be
under the gun to salvage these operations, while
maintaining extremely profitable strangleholds on
extortion for labor peace in the construction indus-
try and from businesses on the New Jersey water-
Cirillo already had demonstrated an aptitude for
mob politics and infighting by moving up the ladder.
In 1953 at age 23 he was convicted of running a
heroin ring in East Harlem grossing $20,000 a day.
Cirillo did four years for that but since has only been
arrested for consorting with known criminals, a mis-
demeanor used for harassment purposes by detec-
tives. All such charges were dismissed.
What surprised law enforcement was the way Cir-
illo advanced in the mob — quietly — thereafter. The
Genovese family, like most other Mafia groups, gen-
erally refuse to advance anyone with a drug record,
since convicted narcotics traffickers attract addi-
tional law enforcement surveillance. Evidently his
know-how made Cirillo an exception to this nearly
It was clear Quiet Dom would not be an easy
target for law enforcement. It was considered
unlikely that he would be caught on electronic
tape, as he always specialized in "walk talks,"
whispering to associates on noisy streets rather
than on the phone or inside mob social clubs.
Investigators also knew Cirillo was a hard man to
track with an uncanny knack for shaking tails.
Above all he showed "car smarts" when followed
by automobile. Frustrated investigators told of sud-
denly losing their prey, only to discover him now
behind them — trailing them!